Over a month ago, a group of experts took part in a simulated draft preparing not only themselves, but readers for the fantasy baseball season. On Wednesday, March 20th, 2013, the aforementioned experts set aside an hour and a half of their day (yes, a league with no auto-drafts) and used their research and past experiences to see who’s the wisest guy in the group.
1) Andrew Gruman (FOX Sports Wisconsin – Milwaukee Brewers)
2) Jay Clemons (FOX Sports South – Atlanta Braves)
3) Joel Beall (FOXSports.com)
4) Matt Schnider (FOXSports.com)
5) Howard Bender (Rotowire)
6) John Halpin (FOXSports.com)
7) Adam Meyer (FOXSports.com)
8) Eric Luchetti (FOX Sports Midwest)
9) Jake Westrich (WhatIfSports.com)
10) Anthony Andro (FOX Sports Southwest – Texas Rangers)
11) Brad Johnson (Rotowire)
12) Ryan Fowler (FOXSports.com)
Below, I’ve evaluated the first picks and each team in the league.
1. Mike Trout, OF (Gruman) – The top three selections didn’t change, but the draft order did. Andrew was lucky enough to have the third pick in our mock draft and the first overall pick in the real draft. Trout will be off to a hot start when the Angels travel to hitter-friendly Cincinnati and Texas to start the season.
2. Miguel Cabrera, 3B (Clemons) – Jay stuck with Tigers hitters going from Prince Fielder in the mock draft to Cabrera in the actual draft. You can’t go wrong with either choice. Detroit’s offense will be upgraded with Victor Martinez and Torii Hunter in the lineup. Also, word on the street is that Hunter is providing a solid teacher-role to lead-off hitter Austin Jackson. The only thing that worries me is that Miggy is having the worst spring of his career (.250/.313/.545). Maybe a Triple Crown hangover?
3. Ryan Braun, OF (Beall) – Joel has Braun No. 2 on his Top 300 list, so this was an easy decision for him. Out of every draft I’ve been a part of this year, I’ve seen the same first three players off the board. I know Trout played in 15 fewer games, but Braun had 11 more home runs and 29 more RBI last year. The AL Rookie of the Year had 19 more stolen bases, but Braun gives you a little more stability and experience.
4. Robinson Cano, 2B (Schnider) – One of the few healthy players on the Yankee roster is selected No. 4 overall. In the mock draft he fell to sixth. In fact, a computer issue forced Matt to auto-draft Albert Pujols at fifth overall last month and he passed on Cano. That mistake didn’t happen when the draft counted. The game’s best second base option is in a tier almost by his self. The first catcher came off the board (Buster Posey) before the next second basemen was drafted (Dustin Pedroia).
5. Andrew McCutchen, OF (Bender) – Howard stuck with his “best outfielder available” strategy he exhibited in the mock draft and took Cutch. Last season, only seven outfielders played in more games, and no one had a better batting average (.327). When someone is the best at their position in any of the popular scoring categories (hits, home runs, RBI, stolen bases, batting average, and OBP) it catapults them higher up the draft board.
6. Joey Votto, 1B (Halpin) – The stat I will always associate with Votto is OBP. Though he only took 374 at-bats, he finished with a higher OBP than anyone that played at least 100 games. A knee injury forced him to miss half of July and all of August. He didn’t hit a home run after June which is a major concern considering that first basemen are supposed to provide fantasy teams with the power numbers.
7. Prince Fielder, 1B (Meyer) – I was nervous about having John pick before me because we basically discussed our entire draft strategy the night before on his Fantasy 15 podcast. During said conversation, I mentioned that I tend to draft Prince Fielder, and I think he’ll have a great season in 2013. Besides the fact that he’s only sat out one game in four years, Fielder has averaged 38 homers and 112 RBI over the last six seasons.
8. Carlos Gonzalez, OF (Luchetti) – The biggest first-round mover from mock draft to real draft is CarGo. In our practice draft in mid-February Gonzalez went 20th overall and the eighth among outfielders. This time around, he is chosen eighth overall and the fourth outfielder. For a guy that hasn’t played more than 145 games in a season, that’s pretty risky in my book. Yeah, the Rockies’ left fielder has put up a decent batting average the last three seasons (no less than .295) and his home field could boost his stock, but too many injuries to be a first-rounder.
9. Albert Pujols, 1B (Westrich) – In “The Machine’s” worst season of his 12-year career he still finished fifth among first basemen with 30 home runs (same as Prince Fielder), third with 105 RBI (only behind Fielder and Adrian Gonzalez), third with 173 hits, and third with 85 runs. So, yeah, he’s worth a first-round pick.
10. Matt Kemp, OF (Andro) – “Beast Mode” couldn’t live up to his 50 home run, 50 stolen bases guarantee in 2012 after his hamstring issues and injuring his shoulder running into the outfield wall. Prior to his injury-plagued season, he didn’t miss a game in back-to-back seasons. His drive to want to put up big numbers and play every day is a fantasy owner’s dream. Eric got a steal of a pick with Kemp at No. 10.
11. Jose Bautista, OF (Johnson) – Talk about a player who needs to CTRL + ALT + DELETE. After a great 2010 campaign (54 HRs, 124 RBI) he’s declined in his power numbers and games played ever since. This season, Joey Bats is recovering from surgery on his left wrist and he says he’s 100 percent ready to start the season. With Melky Cabrera, Emilio Bonifacio, and Jose Reyes infused into the Blue Jays lineup this should give Bautista the added lift he needs to break this trending slump.
12. Jose Reyes, SS (Fowler) – Ryan reeeally likes Jose Reyes this season. In the mock draft, Fowler took him in the second-round (17th overall). In his shortstop rankings, he has Reyes No. 1. In his top-300, he has him 14th. If you find a ranking higher from anyone else, please let me know. Reyes had a solid World Baseball Classic (.314/.351/.486) as his Dominican Republic team dominated. He’ll get anywhere between 30-78 (anything in between is acceptable) stolen bases, but that’s really the only stat where he excels. To be fair, Fowler also drafted Giancarlo Stanton with the first pick in the second round, who is more of a first-rounder than Reyes (especially when you take him before Troy Tulowitzki).
Owner-by-owner draft analysis:
Liked: A lot of positives with Andrew’s draft: He spaced out his picks (OF, 3B, 1B, C, SP); drafted an ace (or two) and then built his offense; waited until the fifth-round for a solid catcher (Joe Mauer); selected players I consider sleepers (Erick Aybar and Todd Frazier). Disliked: He drafted too many hitters and only the bare minimum of pitchers. The maximum innings pitched setting is so high (1500 IP) in our league that only having six starting pitchers will hinder his ability to take categories in a roto league.
Liked: This is probably the best offense in the league. Jay has Chris Davis, Adam LaRoche, and Curtis Granderson on his bench, that’s a concrete sign that the offense is going to be powerful. Disliked: Another owner signing the minimum number of pitchers. I don’t want to sound like the manager at Chotchkie’s from Office Space with the “flair minimum” talk, but it just doesn’t make sense in a rotisserie-style league to have the fewest number of pitchers.
Liked: Not my favorite draft. However, I will say I thought he made the right decision selecting Braun in the first-round. Disliked: Where to begin: He picked three guys on my “do not draft” list (Andrus, Crawford, and Dickey); Weak bench on the offense (Keppinger and Gordon); He picked extra pitchers, but he went with some No. 5 guys in the rotation (Hanson and Detwiler), which I try to avoid.
Liked: He waited until the fourth-round before he took a starting pitcher and yet he still ended up with a formidable rotation (Sabathia, Darvish, Scherzer, Minor, and Harrison). Disliked: As I mentioned in my players to avoid gallery, there’s always “that guy” who drafts Buster Posey in the second-round and today it was Matt. He could’ve used that spot to improve his outfield (if Trumbo is his first baseman, Brett Gardner would be his best OF).
Liked: Great, balanced offense. He chose players that provide both power and speed so his roto numbers should end with him in the top-three in each category. Disliked: While his offense is great, he may have waited too long to draft his first starting pitcher. Jordan Zimmermann is dubbed as the ace in his rotation (No. 3 in Washington). It looks like he’s hoping that winning saves at the end of the season will be enough (added with his offense) to take the league title. That’s too much of a risk in my mind.
Liked: In the mock draft, John took two pitchers within the first 11 rounds, and I ripped him for it. It’s good to know that he took my kind words to heart and drafted Chris Sale (round five), Zack Greinke (round six), Doug Fister (round nine), and Jon Lester (round 11). Disliked: Unfortunately for Mr. Halpin, the extent of Hanley Ramirez’s injury wasn’t fully disclosed before our draft took place, and he took him with his second pick.
Liked: What’s not to like with this draft? The team is loaded with monstrous home run hitters (Fielder, Hamilton, and Bruce), speedy base runners (Kipnis, Bonifacio, and Jennings), and a catcher that will mainly play first base and DH. Disliked: If I have to nitpick, I could use one more starting pitcher to rely on later in the year. Gio Gonzalez and Matt Harvey are great, but if Ryan Vogelsong or Ian Kennedy can keep a low ERA and high strikeout total, this league will be wrapped up in August.
Liked: Eric’s draft strategy improved tremendously after the mock team he put together a month ago. In mid-February, he took three starting pitchers in the first four rounds. This time around, Luchetti didn’t take his third pitcher until the ninth round. By doing that, he was able to manufacture a decent outfield with CarGo, Matt Holliday, and Shin-Soo Choo. Disliked: I think every team should draft at least one top prospect (I also believe fantasy sites should offer a “minors” position where you can stash one or two guys) per draft. However, when someone takes Will Myers, Julio Teheran, Trevor Rosenthal, and Shelby Miller (Did I mention he lives in St. Louis?) in the same draft it raises some red flags.
Liked: The best draft goes to Jake. In the first-round, he had the option to draft Matt Kemp, but he went with Pujols. I enjoyed that selection because there are plenty of capable outfielders in this draft, but a limited supply of powerhouse infielders (by “powerhouse” I mean the ability to produce runs and keep a decent average). The list goes: Miggy, Cano, Fielder, Votto, Pujols, and maybe Tulo. Westrich drafted two of those players. Disliked: The only move I would have made differently is in the fourth-round Jake drafted Cliff Lee over Gio Gonzalez. Though, I was the one who ended up with Gio. Thanks.
Liked: I’m not quite sure how Bryce Harper made it all the way to the fourth-round in an “expert” draft, but AA took advantage of the misstep. Anthony drafted possibly the best hitter in the NL and best pitcher in the AL. He was also able to hold-off his affiliation with the Rangers until the 18th round, Alexi Ogando. By the way, Andro is big on Ogando’s potential, so make a note of that in your draft. Disliked: Instead of drafting his second pitcher in round-three, I think he should have taken Edwin Encarnacion or Paul Goldschmidt. In the end, Eric Hosmer would be his first baseman. Not a terrible decision, but it could have been upgraded earlier.
Liked: Similar to the mock, Brad had a very successful draft for the 2013 FOX experts’ fantasy baseball league. He followed my draft rulebook almost to a “T”: Waited on a shortstop (16th round) and catcher (11th); Select an ace early (Strasburg) and then built his offense; Add a prospect (d’Arnaud). Disliked: The biggest decision he made came in the second-round. It’s a choice almost every fantasy baseball owner will need to make: Verlander, Kershaw, or Strasburg? JV has the reliability. Clayton pitches to other pitchers. Stras has the youth and K-rate. If it was my call, I would invest in the consistent Tigers’ ace.
Liked: The league’s commish was saddled with the last pick/first pick scenario and faired rather well. Much like our rehearsal draft, Fowler had the knowledge to bypass a pitcher with his first two picks, while still nabbing an ace (Cole Hamels). Ryan also snatched Kyle Lohse (free agent at the time) with his second-to-last pick. Disliked: Contrary to what his roster may insinuate, Fowler isn’t now, nor was he ever, a member of the Milwaukee Brewers. However, he did select: ARam, Aoki Pokey, Corey Hart, and Lohse. Our commissioner might just be the Easter bunny…#basALLYOUREGGSket
• 5×5 Roto (OBP instead of AVG)
• 22 Rounds
catcher (1), first baseman (1), second baseman (1), shortstop (1), third baseman (1), outfielders (3), utility (1), starting pitchers (3), relief pitchers (2), general pitchers (3), and bench (5)